The Senkaku Island dispute has been blowing up again lately and the media is all ablaze with anti-Japanese protests in China. Japanese businesses are being vandalized, Japanese cars destroyed, and all sorts of crazy nonsense has been going down over there lately. So why are the Senkaku Islands so important to these countries and who do they really belong to?
Luckily for you, I’ve done extensive research, cracked the case, and can say with utmost certainty who has the rights to lay claim to the islands.
The Senkaku Islands and How it All Began
Before this whole deal made its way into the media, I didn’t really know much about the Senkaku Island debate, let alone where these islands were. The Senkaku Islands, or Diaoyu as they are known in China, are a group of five uninhabited islands and three barren rocks located in the East China Sea between Japan, Taiwan, and China, with all three countries laying claim to them.
Following the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese government formally annexed what was known as the Ryukyu Kingdom as Okinawa Prefecture in 1879. The Senkaku Islands, which lay between the Ryukyu Kingdom and the Chinese Qing Empire, became the boundary between the two nations.
In 1885, Japan considered taking formal control of the Senkaku Islands. However, the islands had been given Chinese names, Chinese newspapers were claiming that Japan was occupying islands off of China’s coast, and Japan just didn’t really want to make the Qing Empire suspicious of anything by annexing the islands. As such, the request to initiate formal control over the islands was rejected.
In 1895, during the First Sino-Japanese War, Japan decided to incorporate the islands under the administration of Okinawa, stating that it had been conducting surveys there since 1884 and that the islands effectively didn’t belong to anyone, with there being no evidence to suggest that they had ever been under the Qing Empire’s control.
After China lost the Sino-Japanese War, both countries signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki which stated that China would surrender the island of Taiwan together with all islands appertaining or belonging to said island of Taiwan.
The tricky part here is that there was no agreement as to who had control over the Senkaku Islands prior to this, so it is debatable as to whether or not the Senkaku Islands were actually included as part of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. This detail is important because the treaty was rendered moot when Japan lost World War II in 1945. The Treaty of San Francisco nullified prior treaties concerning the area.
Like I said, there is a disagreement between the Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese governments as to whether or not the islands are implied to be part of the “islands appertaining or belonging to said island of Taiwan” in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. China and Taiwan both dispute the Japanese claim to the island by citing Japan’s abovementioned reasons to turn down the request to incorporate the islands in 1885. Both China and Taiwan assert sovereignty over the islands.
Unfortunately for Japan and China, the abovementioned history means absolutely nothing. Through my extensively painstaking research on the topic, I uncovered the greatest government conspiracy coverup fiasco known to man. Neither Japan, China, or Taiwan have the right to claim the Senkaku Islands as their own.
I discovered that shortly after Lithuania’s personal union with Poland in 1386, a brave and handsome Lithuanian man set out on a sailing expedition from the port city of Klaipėda in search of fame and fortune. Tragically, the ships did not return for they had become irreparably damaged and moored on a rocky, uninhabited archipelago in a strange and distant sea.
The captain of the ship detailed the landscape and surroundings in his journal as he slowly passed away from starvation. He wrote of his dreams and aspirations, his love for his country, and claimed the archipelago in the name of his family.
This man was my ancestor. I traced back the lineage and I found that I am the true heir to the Senkaku Islands. Both the Chinese and Japanese governments know this and they’ve tried to hide the fact that the islands belong to me and my family with their made up histories and elaborate fairy tales. I profess that I am the only one who may rightfully lay claim to these lands. I declare myself high king of the Senkaku Islands.
But just for fun, let’s explore why China and Japan think that they have the right to claim the area and not me.
The Current State of Affairs
The Senkaku Islands are currently administered by Japan, but Taiwan and China both lay claim to them as well. The United States occupied the islands after World War II from 1945 to 1972 and even though they do not have an official position on the validity of the competing sovereignty claims, the islands are included within the U.S. Japan Security Treaty. This means that if Japan needed to defend the islands, it would be likely to compel action by the United States military.
Both China and Japan indicated their sovereignty claims with respect to the islands to the United Nations Security Council at the time of the US transfer of its administrative powers to Japan after its occupation in 1972. Sovereignty over the islands would give Japan exclusive oil, mineral, and fishing rights in surrounding waters.
Basically what happened was that the US handed the islands over to Japan, and China wasn’t too happy about it because they believed it should be placed in their hands, not Japan’s.
China’s Claim to the Islands
It seems that China really didn’t put up too much of a fuss about these islands until after it was discovered that there might be oil reserves under the sea surrounding the islands. The study was conducted in 1968, and the Chinese started getting really adamant over their claims to the region shortly thereafter, especially with the US choice to hand control of the region over to Japan. From the Chinese perspective, this is what it looks like for the Senkaku Islands.
1. China claims the discovery of the islands for themselves, citing early recordings of such in old maps and travelogues.
2. The islands were China’s frontier off-shore defense against wakou (Japanese pirates) during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) and an old Chinese map of Asia as well as a map compiled by a Japanese cartographer in the 18th century show the islands as being a part of China.
3. As mentioned above, Japan took control of the islands during the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895 by means of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. But a letter from the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1885 warning against annexing the islands due to anxiety about China’s response, shows, in China’s opinion, that Japan knew the islands were not actually “up for grabs.”
4. The Potsdam Declaration stated that “Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and such minor islands as we determine,” with “we” being the victors of the Second World War, including the Republic of China. Japan accepted the terms of the Declaration when it surrendered and China sees this as a reason for stating they have rights to the islands in question.
5. Both China and Taiwan never endorsed the US transfer of the islands to Japan in 1970s.
Japan’s Claim to the Islands
The Japanese stance on the issue is that there isn’t even an issue at all. Japan believes that there is no territorial issue that needs to be resolved over the Senkaku Islands whatsoever. In a counter to the abovementioned Chinese points, Japan has stated the following.
1. According to Japan, the islands have been uninhabited and have showed no trace of being under Chinese control prior to 1895.
2. The islands were neither part of Taiwan nor part of the Pescadores Islands, which were ceded to Japan by the Qing Dynasty in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Therefore, the Japanese believe their claim to the islands was not affected by the San Francisco Peace Treaty.
3. Though the islands were controlled by the United States as an occupying power between 1945 and 1972, Japan was given and has exercised administration over the islands ever since.
4. Taiwan and China only started claiming ownership of the islands in 1971, following a May 1969 United Nations report that a large oil and gas reserve may exist under the seabed near the islands.
So, as one can see – they are simply bickering over lands that they have no legitimate stake in. Those islands are mine and I’m considering submitting a formal complaint of sorts, but I fear that without widespread worldwide support, I will fall victim to the same fate as many Japanese businesses and establishments in China as I’m sure the validity of my claim will be questioned.
The Anti-Japanese Demonstrations
Over the years there have been plenty of demonstrations concerning the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands. Lately, there’s been a resurgence of them in China, mostly due to Shintaro Ishihara’s decision to let Tokyo Municipality purchase three of the Senkaku islands from their current Japanese owners (the Kurihara family), placing them under state control. The Chinese government angrily protested, stating, “No one will ever be permitted to buy and sell China’s sacred territory.”
On August 15th, activists from Hong Kong sailed to and landed on one of the disputed islands, but were stopped by the Japan Coast Guard. The activists and their ship were detained by Japanese authorities and were deported two days later.
China wasn’t happy about this either.
In Beijing, citizens of began protesting in front of the Japanese embassy and protestors called for the return of the Diaoyu Islands and for Japan to confess her crimes. Chinese protestors marched down the streets chanting slogans such as “Defend the Diaoyu Islands” and “Smash Japanese Imperialism.” They called for the boycott of Japanese goods and for the government to retake the islands. Japanese flags were defaced, Japanese cars were smashed, and shops selling Japanese goods were vandalized.
According to Sing Tao Daily, the Chinese government sent in large numbers of armed police, who called for an end to the violent protests, drove the protesters away, and detained a handful of them.
The riots are also being condemned by a great amount of Chinese citizens and many are hoping for a soon to be realized peaceful solution as can be seen from posts on Sina Weibo (a Chinese microblogging website akin to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook, used by well over 30% of Internet users in China with more than 300 million registered users).
When I first saw the horrific scenes, I was so ashamed of my own race, seeming so barbaric and outrageous through the lens, that at one point, I felt that such a lawless nation will never have any hope of becoming a peace-loving superpower that is deserving of respect, and that there is no point of staying in a country that can come to Armageddon so easily.
But after reading posts that have flooded Sina Weibo, most of which vehemently condemned such violence, I realize that while the rabble and the crimes they’ve committed in the name of love for China have irreversibly smeared the image of Chinese people, there are much more people who have utter contempt for them.
Currently, the official stance of the involved parties is as follows: China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is urging people to express thoughts “rationally and within the law,” Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda wants China to prevent anti-Japan violence, Taiwan is annoyed but being ignored by pretty much everyone, and the United States just wants everybody to calm down.
As one can see, there’s a lot of stuff going on and the people and the governments are trying to figure out the best way to proceed with everything. Normally, I wouldn’t take a stance on these sorts of situations as they’re usually not entirely black and white cases, but these islands are obviously mine to claim. This I know for sure. Another thing I know for sure is that it’s a bad time to be the owner of Japanese goods in China with all the riots going on. Yikes.
Actually, this Happens a Lot
Unfortunately, territorial disputes are a pretty common thing between Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries. Koichi actually wrote about this a while ago in his post about all the current land disputes Japan is involved in.
Just recently at the London Olympic games a South Korean player got in big trouble for displaying a sign with a slogan supporting South Korean sovereignty over disputed islets that are claimed by both South Korea and Japan (called Dokdo in South Korean and Takeshima in Japan). There’s a small chance that these islets belong to my family as well, but I won’t get into that here.
And then of course there’s the whole China/Taiwan deal along with a slew of countless other issues plaguing the region. It would seem that territorial disputes are more rampant in the Asia Pacific are than any other, a full list of which can be found here. I’m sure there will always be plenty of disputes regarding the lands in the area, especially when they’re uninhabited islands such as the Senkaku. My only hope is that the issues can be resolved peacefully.
I’m not even going to get into all the other supposed stakes my family has in distant lands that are currently up for dispute, but here’s where you come in. I need you to help rally support for the cause and get the Senkaku Islands back into their rightful hands. Mine.
So tell me, what are your thoughts on the whole Senkaku Island dispute? Any important details I forgot to touch on? Who do you think has the most valid claim to the islands – Japan, China, Taiwan, or yours truly? What do you think should be done to resolve the issue at hand? Let us know in the comments!